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Teachers weigh in on Wal-Mart in Orange
Saying Wilderness battlefield 'is under siege,' U.S. educators implore Orange to find another site for Wal-Mart Supercenter

UPDATE:Board of Supervisors public hearing scheduled for tonight is canceled (7/27/09)


Date published: 7/27/2009

BY CLINT SCHEMMER

In the classroom, at least, nobody wants to make the teacher mad.

But dozens of America's educators are angry as hornets about Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s plan to build a Supercenter near a national park at the Wilderness in Virginia.

This weekend, teachers visiting the Fredericksburg area from across the nation hurled a respectful salvo at the retail giant, spontaneously penning a letter to Orange County.

Orange officials are expected to decide tonight or tomorrow whether to allow a 220,000-square-foot retail center to be built near the entrance to Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.

Writing Lee Frame, chairman of the Orange Board of Supervisors, the teachers asked the county's leaders to "respect this hallowed battleground of American history and select another site in Orange County for this commercial development."

Calling Civil War battlefields "irreplaceable resources for those who seek to impart the significance of the American Civil War," they said of the Wilderness, "Unfortunately, this historic landscape is under siege."

One hundred fifteen teachers signed the letter, which will be hand-delivered to Frame tonight when the Orange board holds a public hearing on the proposal to build the largest retail center in the county. They make up the vast majority of 140 educators from 32 states who were attending the eighth annual Teacher Institute sponsored by the Civil War Preservation Trust, a three-day conference.

"As teachers, we the undersigned feel strongly that the Wilderness Battlefield and other historic sites play an integral role in educating future generations about the events that have shaped our nation," the teachers wrote.

"We meet this weekend in neighboring Spotsylvania County, Va., to celebrate this region's incomparable Civil War history and explore ways to improve the quality of history education in our classrooms, scattered across the country," they said. "Even as we strive to bring the past alive for our students, we recognize that a preserved battlefield is an outdoor classroom with the power to transport students and visitors back to the great events that happened there."


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